Ecological Investigation on the Afroalpine Vegetation of Guna Mountain, South Gondar

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Addis Ababa University


Ecological investigation was conducted on the afroalpine vegetation of the Guna Massif, South Gondar, Ethiopia, to characterize vegetation communities and type and extent of utilization of the area by the farming societies at lower slopes The vegetation of the afroalpine area of Guna Mountain was studied for describing the major plant communities and relationships between vegetation and topographic, climatic and edaphic factors. Vegetation composition was studied from quadrats (10 x 10 m) while quadrat size 1 m x 1 m was used for herbaceous vegetation along an altitudinal gradient extending from 3481 m up to 4041 m. From each quadrat, species presence and absence, percent cover abundance and frequency of 56 plant species from a total of 45 quadrats were recorded. Soil samples were collected from each quadrat and were analyzed for texture, pH, conductivity and soil moisture. Association analysis was performed on the vegetation data using the program SYNTAX to identify the community types. Pearson Correlation Coefficient was applied to identify four species groups. Six major plant communities, namely: Hypericum-Carex-Satureja community, EricaHypericum- Dipsacus scrub community, Festuca-Erica complex community, FestucaOestospermum meadow community type, Festuca-Lobelia-Thymus community type and Lobepa-Festuca-Helichlysum heather community type was described. Vegetation cover and species diversity decreased with an increase in altitude, Soil moisture content also decreased with altitude. The sites occupied by the major plant communities differed significantly in their soil texture and soil moisture content Socio-economic data were obtained through questionnaire, on site observation as well as using 1984 and 1994 population census results. Twenty informants were selected in each "Kebele" for the study using systematic random sampling. Chi-Square test and correlation analysis were used to relate mode of utilization of the natural resources (grazing, thatching and firewood) by the peasant associations adjoining Guna Massif. Grazing was the most important mode of utilization followed by thatching and firewood. Most respondents (60-70%) considered the Guna area as a very important source for thatching grass, while seven out of eight peasant associations depended on the Guna area as a source of fuel-wood. The biomass production showed significant seasonal variations fo !lowing rainfall. Peak biomass was obtained during the wet periods, June-October. It ranged from 85.1 g n12 to 224.9 g m-2 for mixed stands (AlldrojJogoll ([mcthystilllls + Festllc([ richardil) and 96.1 g 111- 2 for F. riclwrdii pure stand. There was relatively little growth in the dry period (October-Janumy). The annual biomass production ranged from 112 g m·2 to 82 g m·2 for F. ric/wrciii and mixed stands, respectively. The biomass production of F. richardii stand was significantly lower than the mixed stand species.